Sacrifice Now to Get More Later: Poker’s Biggest Challenge (and Life’s)

Adams: Clearly you can’t be a poker player who takes actions on a consistent basis.  You have to mix things up intelligently.  That said, for any given hand, there is probably a correct strategy if you view that hand in isolation, and often, if you’re going to take a play other than that, then you’re costing yourself something on that particular hand or to the benefit of subsequent hands, and you basically have to asses if what you’re costing yourself on that hand is worth it in terms of what you will gain in subsequent hands.  So, for instance, if one player limps and then another player limps and I have aces, and I decide to limp, I know that’s the wrong play on that isolated hand.  That just has to be wrong.  It’s better to raise, and that, in particular, is a somewhat weird play that is going to cost you a good bit of money in expectation on that particular hand.  So, if you engage in that play, you have to decide whether the various benefits of limping in that particular situation will provide enough value for you down the road by, for instance, making opponents a little bit more leery when you decide to limp behind or, you know, make your opponents a little bit scared to, like, put in various [steal] raises in [late position] or whatever.  You have to decide if the benefits in those subsequent hands are worth what you’re costing yourself in that hand.  It’s not clear what you should do.

No poker player can play the game using a consistent strategy forever. Getting complacent gives others the edge over you. Making small sacrifices to build a more variable long-term approach is essential to having success in the poker arena, and beyond.

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